United Methodists continue to lean pro-life
The United Methodist Church’s (UMC) General Board of Church and Society has posted the revisions made to the denomination’s official statement on abortion. The changes are relatively minor, in comparison to past years, but they reflect continued consolidation of the influence of the denomination’s pro-life core. Note in particular the addition of the negative reference to eugenics, as well as the following lengthy section:
We mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.
Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel that they have no choice due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control. The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities. They should also support those crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women explore all options related to unplanned pregnancy.
The statement is carefully worded, but the emphasis on helping poor women who have unintended pregnancies so that they do not have to have abortions is helpful. This is an area of common ground between many pro-choice and pro-life Americans and it is way of addressing abortion that sidesteps the culture wars. It is also a clear means of showing the love of Christ to the needy and the vulnerable. Some Christians are so fixated on the political battle that they fail to see that witnessing to the love and justice of Christ for sinners is far more important – ultimately – than is politics. In that sense believers who perform actions of justice and mercy in response to the gospel are involved in the very essence of the kingdom’s manifestation in this world. Those who fight and win political battles are doing an important work as well, but the means they have to use – the sword of a government that is passing away – highlights the more peripheral nature of their struggle. Think of it in terms of a comparison between the function of a New Testament deacon and the work of a lawyer in Caesar’s court.
At the heart of being a Christian is keeping our ultimate loyalty and hope straight, even when the issue at hand is abortion. The UMC has a long way to go in faithfully proclaiming Christ’s lordship regarding abortion, but at least it is on the right track.